The next time I open my eyes, I’ve once again been thrown into an unfamiliar situation. It’s the worst awakening, ruining the comfort I got from my pleasant sleep after so long.
I feel cold, hard stone beneath me, completely different from the soft bed I fell asleep on earlier. My body temperature steadily drops from the stone; I shiver at the penetrating cold. There’s no light from magic around like there should be. My surroundings are faintly dim, and it takes my eyes some time to get used to them.
Where is this place? I can tell I’ve been left somewhere that clearly isn’t the White Lily Court, but I know nothing else. I try to move about, grimacing at the pain that runs through my entire body. It seems those barely working painkillers have worn off. It’s a burning kind of pain, literally. Gritting my teeth, I manage to bear it, trying to fix my posture. That’s when I suddenly realize it all too late. That both of my hands are tied behind my back. I can’t even get up like this.
I mutter that word with my parched up mouth; it pointlessly resounds in the space that’s seemingly empty except for me. What, just what in the world has happened? There’s no way I can easily accept this situation.
I feel terribly helpless that that man isn’t beside me. Even though he said 「I’ll be right beside you.」 Was that just a lie? —No, in this situation, it might be better if it was a lie.
It’s far more terrifying if this is an unexpected situation even for him. He’s incredibly powerful in many ways, there aren’t many people who can slip past him and take me to a place like this.
My only source of light is the window in the ceiling with iron bars on it, I can’t see anything else that’s visibly lit up. That’s the only characteristic thing I can see now that my eyes have adjusted to the dimness; then there’s a door that has a small window with bars on it placed just high enough on it, placed very firmly into the wall.
I dare say this is jail. I can make that guess from the interior, dim yet still perceivable. But I have absolutely no idea why I’ve been thrown into this jail.
Still enduring the pain of my wounds, no matter how much I think about it I can’t find an answer. Then without any warning, I hear a ‘clang’ of the door being unlocked from the other side. ‘That sturdy sound really feels like some lavish hospitality for an injured person like me,’ I think, strangely calm.
Since Celves has already been caught, I can’t possibly think of who else would have especially done this to me. ‘Who in the world is it?’ Still lying on the ground, I manage to somehow lift my head and look at the door to see it slowly open. Then, my eyes widen at the person there.
There’s no way I could forget those lovely features, standing out from the faint light from the skylight. Those amethyst-like eyes look at me, framed by long eyelashes the same color as that strawberry-blonde hair.
Lunamerie stands there, so beautiful she doesn’t fit in a place like this at all.
「How do you do, Lady Filmina.」
She lifts the hem of her dress, lightly bowing with a smile just like that time we met in that man’s laboratory. For a moment, her smile makes me almost forget that this is a jail cell.
Why… is she here? How can she smile like that in a place like this? She doesn’t match this place at all, and I have no idea what I should say anymore.
「Lady Luna, why—」
「Won’t you relax a little?」
I gasp at her lovely voice’s way of speaking, as if completely throwing me away. Since lying on the ground is an unreasonable posture, my neck complains having to be lifted up to look at her. But the surprise I feel far surpasses the pain.
She looks down on me as if pitying me, letting out a weary sigh.
「I thought you’d have died on your own by now. It’s true that low-ranking aristocrats’ are just like weeds when it comes to staying alive, isn’t it?」
I can’t catch up with those words, said in a half-sigh. Indifferent to my dumbfounded state, Lunamerie looks really so flabbergasting, and saying even more shocking words from those light-pink lips.
「Really, Sir Celves is so useless at the most crucial times.」
Celves. I feel my eyes widen once again at that name. I only know one young man that holds the name ‘Celves’. Is the Celves I know the same as the ‘Celves’ she speaks of? That question must clearly show on my face. She giggles so sweetly like a songbird’s chirping, continuing:
「You aren’t mistaken, that’s the same Sir Celves of the Ronein family as you’ve guessed.」
She says that so simply as if she’s saying something like ‘The weather tomorrow will be clear.’ But a violent storm has started devastating me on the inside.
「Why did Sir Celves……」
That’s a rather idiotic voice, I think. But that voice reveals my current mental state as it is.
Lunamerie still smiles like usual. A lovely smile, like a sweet flower. But for some reason, the more malice there is in it, the more it feels extremely unbalanced with these surroundings.
「Ah, that’s right, you had no way of knowing. Me and Sir Celves are engaged, as decided by my father. He’s not a Lord, but we’ve known each other for very long.」
This time for sure, I widen my eyes. Lunamerie and Celves are… Engaged? I’m dumbfounded at these random points connected together. Lunamerie looks at me with an innocent expression.
The Valentine family and the Ronein family are both one of the grand aristocrats that represent our country. If pushed to say which one ranked higher, anyone would say it’s the Valentine family. But there’s not so much difference in their social status that there would be an issue if they were going to get married.
But, so what? I really just can’t understand, I’m at the height of confusion. Or perhaps, it’s not that I can’t understand, but I don’t want to – that might be a more correct way to put it. I mean, isn’t that right? From the way she was speaking earlier, it’s just like——
「Hey, Lady Filmina. I have a request for you.」
That lovely voice interrupts my confused thoughts. I raise my head from the stone floor once again to look at Lunamerie, only to see her sweetly smiling.
「Please give me Sir Edi.」
Just like an innocent child, demanding candy or some toys. With her slender hands in front of her chest, fingers entwined, Lunamerie looks even more like she’s dreaming of something as she says it.
——What is this girl saying?
Astonished, I do nothing but just look at Lunamerie. Whether she realizes my internal state or not, or perhaps she doesn’t care about it in the first place, she just earnestly, sweetly smiles, continuing. With that smile that would make anyone want to do as she says.
「I pretended that time we met in Sir Edi’s garden was the first time I met you, but the truth is, I’d known about you for much longer.」
「Yes. Well, it wasn’t like I wanted to get to know you or something. I had my ‘shadows’ investigate a little about Sir Edi, that’s when I found out about you. To be honest, I was really sad. Just as I thought I’d found a suitable match for me, he’d already gotten married!」
A complete change from her smile until now, Lunamerie casts her big eyes downward, dropping her shoulders, incredibly sadly. ‘I can’t do anything about that even if you ask me,’ is what I really think.
The ‘shadows’ she speaks of are an army in charge of the so-called underworld, mainly gathering secret information or carrying out assassinations. It’s said that not just the grand aristocrats have them, powerful aristocrats and wealthy merchants also ‘keep’ them. I thought they were nothing more than fake rumors, but now I see, so they really do exist. But this isn’t how I wanted to find that out.
Looking down at my protesting face, Lunamerie sighs again.
「Have you seen the color of Sir Celves’s hair? It’s just like an old beggar’s! To think that someone with that filthy, half-colored hair could be my fiance, Lady Filmina, you understand how I feel, don’t you? It’s a great difference from Sir Edi’s pure, jet black hair.」
It’s a really cruel way of speaking, even though it’s her own fiance. From those words, I can tell that it would be a huge overstatement to say Lunamerie and Celves’s relationship is a favorable one by any standards.
I remember Celves’s hair. Certainly it’s just like Lunamerie said, with half-white and half-ash mixed in. But I think those blue eyes of his on his well-arranged face would be charming enough to girls her age.
Comparing him to that man is the problem in the first place. That beauty of his, always attracting people regardless of gender, could more easily be called devil-like, not-human. But it seems that’s not how the girl in front of me sees it.
「Being engaged to him is so embarrassing I can’t bear it. That’s why I had to request my father, have him wait until the last minute to announce it publicly. But even that was the limit too. It was then that the demon king came back.」
The sweet smile returns to her face, like a violet. Different from the princess’s lily-like beauty, it’s a smile so lovely it should be loved by everyone. It almost makes me forget the strange situation we’re in, but the pain of my wounds somehow manages to keep me in reality. It’s rather ironic.
「The Hero is also lovely, but there’s far too much difference in our social statuses. He may be one of the saviors of the world, but it’s unthinkable for me to bring in a country person’s blood in this family. The leader of the knights is the same too. To marry a commoner, it’s not even a joke.」
‘And,’ Lunamerie cut herself off for a minute, both her purple eyes narrowing absentmindedly, her white cheeks dyed a light red.
「Sir Edi is a splendid gentleman. It’s certainly scary that he’s a Black-Hair, but his hair is such a pure black, I think it actually has a charm you can’t find anywhere else. Don’t you think he’s a suitable match for me, that beautiful gentleman with that black hair that no one else has? Don’t you think I’m the only one suitable to stand beside him?」
There isn’t a single bit of doubt in those words. She declares it like it’s so natural and expected, so full of self-confidence it’s arrogant.
「So, I made a request to Sir Celves. To put a deadly curse on you, 『Sir Edi’s wife』.」